Join Ian Robinson for an in-depth discussion in this video Advantages of creating vectors in After Effects, part of After Effects Guru: Working with Vectors.
There are many different ways to create vector graphics inside of After Effects. You can create vector masks that are applied to layer solids, or you can actually create shape layers. Now, each different technique has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, let's get started and check things out. I'm going to start in my After Effects project, just with a blank project. And we can go up under Composition and create a new composition. Under the Presets, I want you to choose HDV/HDTV 720 29.97.
And for the duration, we can go ahead and just leave it set to 5 seconds. If yours isn't set to 5 seconds, just type 500 and press Tab, and it should fill out everything accordingly. Now when I click OK, we've got our first composition that's been created. Now, we've already created some graphic elements in Photoshop and inside of Illustrator. So, we'll go ahead and import those a little bit later. For right now, I want you to just go ahead and just create a basic layer solid.
So let's go up under Layer > New > Solid. You can make yours any color you like. The last color I used was green. So, I'm going to go ahead and go with that. Click OK. We'll make a lime green solid. You want to make sure that it is the comp size, so go ahead and click Make Comp Size and click OK. Now when I go up to my Shape Tools, since I have layer 1 already selected, I'm going to be creating a mask on this layer. So if I go ahead and click and drag, you can see I've created my vector mask. There's my mask, and I could make this mask as large as I wanted to or as small as I wanted to.
Since it's a vector, it'll never lose resolution. The disadvantage of working this way has to do with when you run out of the edge of the solid. So for example, if I click on the solid and press p, I can move the position of this entire layer. And then, when I press m, I can select my mask. And here, I'm just going to grab my Selection Tool here and click on one of these points. And as I drag, notice when I get over to the right, I'm actually losing the edge of my layer solid.
So, this is one of the disadvantages of working with mask paths. If you end up animating the solid that the mask is applied to, you run this risk of falling off the edge of your solid. Now when you're working with shape layers, all you have to do is just make sure you don't have any layers selected, and you can go back up to your Rectangle tool and just click and drag to draw a rectangle out. And once you do that, you've actually created your first shape layer in the shape of a rectangle.
Now, mine is black, so you're not seeing it. So, I'm going to go ahead up here in the top center part of the interface, and change the fill color from black to kind of this light gray color. Now, an interesting thing with shape layers. If I open the Rectangle options here, notice I have options for the Transform position of this shape itself. So, I can move the shape around. But, notice I still have Transform options for the layer itself. So, I can move the layer around independently from the shape.
They each have their own coordinate system. But one of the nice things about shape layers, even if I position the layer to the left and then drag back over to the right, the shape layer is always going to go ahead and fill in with the appropriate filled shape. Now, these are pretty elementary thoughts when it comes to working with After Effects, but I only point them out because it's important to understand exactly how vectors work. Whether you're working with layer solids or working with shape layers, they each have their own sets of coordinates and advantages and disadvantages.
As we continue moving throughout the rest of this course, we'll cover some different ways that we can create both layer masks and vector layers natively inside of After Effects. And of course, we can also see how using Photoshop and Illustrator can sort of mix things up a little bit.
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- Analyzing how vectors behave across the Adobe Creative Cloud
- Animating titles from Photoshop
- Creating custom type from Illustrator
- Importing and copying vectors from Illustrator into After Effects
- Animating with shape layers
- Timing animation vectors